Bee reporters answer questions about area crime news, trends and other issues.
QUESTION: In 1996-97, as a teenager, I worked for a grocery store in the Howe and El Camino area. We had a regular female customer who was disabled and wheelchair-bound. I do not remember her name, but I do remember she had "blondish" hair. One day she just stopped coming into the store. I never saw her again, but I heard from another regular customer that she had been severely assaulted and might have died. Do you know what happened to her or her assailant?
Submitted by: John, Roseville
ANSWER: The woman may be Kimberly Thorstad, who used a wheelchair because of injuries suffered in a 1989 auto accident.
According to stories in The Bee, on Jan. 20, 1997, the 24-year-old woman was assaulted and left for dead in her apartment in the 1900 block of Bell Street. Her mother, who lived nearby, discovered her hours later after becoming concerned when her daughter did not answer the phone.
Derik James Brock, a 26-year-old homeless man, was arrested the following month, accused of robbing and attempting to kill Thorstad. At the time of his arrest, he was already in custody in connection with an attempted supermarket robbery. Thorstad reportedly met Brock after she was befriend by his girlfriend.
In August 1997, Brock was sentenced to 50-years-to-life in prison for the attack on Thorstad. By then he was serving a 60-years-to-life sentence for the attempted robbery. He was sentenced under the state's "three strikes" law because he had been previously convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl and stabbing a childhood friend during an argument over a $3 debt.
At the time of Brock's sentencing, Thorstad's parents told the court that their daughter was in a hospital and was unable to hear or communicate. According to public records, she died in September 2000.
Brock, now 41, is in Mule Creek State Prison in Ione.